I lasted two months.
And in those two months, I flew to Annapolis to give a talk at a yacht club, I flew to St. Thomas to cover the Rolex Regatta, and I flew down to the Exumas and helped Bruce sail Wild Matilda the 800 or so miles down to Culebra. I was doing everything I could do to stay busy.
What I didn’t do was spend any time on my own boat all alone. You see, I’ve never REALLY been a singlehander. I always had my canine crew. And as the time grew closer for me to take off aboard my own boat for my summer trip to the Abacos, I began combing the rescue sites looking for a new little buddy and first mate. And I found him.
Barney is an 8-month old, 11-pound pup who was picked up as a stray on the streets of Miami by Miami Dade Animal Services and rescued from there by United Yorkie Rescue. After an approval process that was only slightly more rigorous than that required for a tenure-track teaching position, I adopted him and brought him home on May 25th – last Friday.
And the fun began. Since Chip was sixteen and a half years old when he died, I was quite accustomed to living with a blind, deaf, geriatric dog who slept about 80% of the time and walked at the speed of a sea slug. Boy, have things changed around here.
I’ve been working all week on the scanned text of the last two novels in my Seychelle series that I’ve been self publishing. I had the mass market versions of the books scanned by Blue Leaf Scanning. I’ve been formatting the plain text rtf file they sent, and I’ve had to clean up all the mistakes that the OCR introduced into the text. For example, all the words spelled “stern” became “stem.” Most of us boaters know there is a big difference between the stern and the stem of a boat! All the “corners” became “comers.” Many of the instances of capital I (quite a few in books written in the first person) had become the numeral 1. All the italics were gone and a third of the returns were screwed up. And so on. This is tedious, nit-picking work. You can do some search and replace stuff, but you have to be able to spot the errors in the first place, and it’s not easy. I really have to concentrate.
By now I know that any of you who have ever lived with a puppy are laughing. Right? Concentrate with a new puppy around? Yeah, right.
I have a stack of new flooring in my apartment that is all wrapped in plastic, and those needle-sharp puppy teeth start gnawing on the plastic as soon as I get to the second line of the first paragraph. I throw a ball which he grabs and then he dashes under the futon. He emerges a few seconds later with a red plastic pen (from my old teaching days) that he has nearly chewed through. I rescue the pen and return to the computer, make it through one more line and I hear an odd noise from behind the couch. He has one of my flip flops and when I try to grab it, he scoots off to the other side of the room dragging the shoe that is nearly the size of him, then sticks his butt up in the air and dares me to chase him for it.
In one week, I have learned to type one-handed while playing tug-o-war with the other. And it occurs to me that he is training me very well to play with him whenever he is bored – which is 80% of the time.
So, I find myself editing between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. when the exhausted puppy is out cold, and while I pushed publish on Bitter End yesterday, I will need another couple of days to finish Wreckers’ Key. It takes these books 5-6 days to chug through the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing system as they must ask me every time if I am absolutely positively sure I have the rights back. This time I had to send them my reversion of rights letter, too.
I’ve had Barney on the boat at the dock and tried to do a few little jobs out there, but I am about as effective with Barney around the boat as I am on the computer. He has already figured out how to climb the steps from the main salon to the cockpit, and he is fascinated by the water. He wants to run out on deck and stare at the water. Like many dogs who ended up loose on the street, he is frightened of loud noises. I haven’t started the engine yet – but today, in preparation, I bought a collapsable dog crate so I can at least keep him safe when I can’t attend to him underway. By the end of the summer, though, I expect I will have turned him into a good little boat dog.
I expect that to start within a week because the good news from Mike and Mary a couple days ago was – Houston, we have ignition. The engine is running and we are ready for lift off! So, if all goes according to plan, I will have to write up an early blog post next week since I hope to be sailing Talespinner across the Gulf Stream next Thursday night with my buddy Barney by my side and Rough Draft – my buddy boat – on the horizon.
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